On a winter’s day about twenty five years ago, I was photographing over on the North Fork with my Fuji 645’s. The New Suffolk waterfront in those days was the location of the former post office – a homey red building which doubled as a grocery store. It was an inviting hang-out for locals who could grab some coffee and catch up with the neighbors.
For a period of time, the store was known as Bill’s Grocery (later to become Fagan’s). It had a lovely view of Robin’s Island, which on warmer days one could enjoy from the porch. New Suffolk, in those times, possessed a degree of character which has since begun to evaporate here on eastern Long Island. Back then (and even today when I look at this picture) it’s hard not to notice the similarity between this building and the Springs General Store on Accabonac Harbor here in East Hampton.
Sadly, New Suffolk’s general store never did enjoy the same degree of longevity as its cousin in Springs. On a Thursday morning in 1993 (only a few years after this picture was taken) it burned to the ground despite the Cutchogue Fire Departments’ best efforts. Last year I inquired at the local library to see if anyone knew the history behind the quirky red shack in front of the post office (the one-eyed building which is the main subject of my photograph). Was it a fish shack or a bait shop? A tool shed? Was it moved there temporarily to sit out the winter on concrete blocks? The reference librarian was unfamiliar with the building and after a bit of research, told me that no one seemed to remember it. It lives on, at least in the picture … a long-forgotten shack on the docks of New Suffolk, caught in a snowy gale.
Anyone with any details about this relatively recent footnote to North Fork history please feel free to comment!